Cayetano formally elected as House Speaker, vows to ‘do what is right’

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2019   •   1016

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the House of Representatives have formally elected Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano as their next leader when the regular session of the 18th Congress opened on Monday (July 22).

With a vote of 266, Cayetano defeated his lone opponent for Speaker, Manila Representative Bienvenido “Benny” Abante who only received 28 votes.

Two solons abstained while one voted “no” to either nominations.

During the election, Cayetano was nominated by his former speakership rivals, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez and Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte.

Abante was nominated by Iloilo Representative Janet Garin and AKO BICOL party-list Representative Alfredo Garbin.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier endorsed Cayetano’s bid for speakership, who will share the term with Velasco. The president proposed that Cayetano lead the House for 15 months and be succeeded by Velasco for the remaining 21 months.

Cayetano vowed to uphold the term-sharing agreement.

“Sana po ako’y maging worthy at sana po ay tulungan niyo ako para sa loob ng 15 na buwan ay mapagsilbihan po natin ang ating mga kababayang Mabuti,” he said in his speech after his election.

(I hope to be worthy and I hope you will help me during the 15 months to serve our people well.)

The newly-elected speaker also assured that the House of Representatives, under his helm, will be a partner of the Duterte administration.

“The House of Representatives, the House of the People are partners with the Duterte administration,” he said.

“We are partners in pursuing a better life for all Filipinos, whether we talk about teachers, about senior citizens, about young people, OFWs, professionals, our teachers, government workers, workers in the private sectors, or out-of-school youth, rich or poor, young or old, of whatever persuasion, of whatever religion, we are all connected and united,” he elaborated.

Aside from his assurance to remain as the Duterte administration’s ally, Cayetano also called on House members to unite and to do what is right.

“Tayo po ang takbuhan ng sambayanan. We will do what is right, so that we will have a Congress that is relevant, responsive and reliable… United and we commit to God, our people the work of the 18th Congress,” he said.

Still in line with the president’s endorsement, Romualdez was elected on Monday as House Majority Leader.

Meanwhile, Presidential son, Paolo was elected as one of the 11 deputy speakers of the House of Representatives along with Representatives Ferdinand Hernandez, Evelina Escudero, Loren Legarda, Conrad Estrella III, Prospero Pichay Jr., Roberto Puno, Eduardo Villanueva, Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Johnny Pimentel and Luis Raymond Villafuerte.

Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab was elected as chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations while Cavite Representative Abraham Tolentino was voted as chairman of the Committee on Accounts.

The lower House also elected Jose Luis Montales as Secretary General and Retired Gen. Ramon Apolinario as Sergeant-at-Arms.

The election for Speakership inside the House Plenary hall this year did not have any ruckus compared to last year after House members ousted then-speaker, Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez and replaced him with then-Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Last year’s Speakership squabble delayed Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address by an hour.

Drilon, Robredo camp hit Cayetano’s ‘all talk’ remarks

Robie de Guzman   •   November 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon hit House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for his “totally uncalled for” remarks against Vice President Leni Robredo.

“I am saddened by his statement. Such comments are totally uncalled for, especially coming from the Speaker of the House,” Drilon said in a statement.

Cayetano earlier said that Robredo is “all talk” since her appointment as the co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

President Rodrigo Duterte last week designated Robredo to co-lead the government’s body against illegal drugs.

Since then, she has been meeting with several groups to float her ideas to address the country’s drug problem, such as scrapping the “Oplan Tokhang” and implementing a health-based anti-drug campaign.

Instead of criticizing Robredo, Drilon said everyone should support the government’s war on drugs and set aside politics.

“It cannot be denied that illegal drug continues to be a problem, notwithstanding the over 5,000 deaths from Operation Tokhang,” he said.

“The gravity of this issue on illegal drugs calls for everyone to set aside politics. In the remaining two and a half years of the administration, we should all work together to solve this problem,” he added.

The senator also noted that even Malacañang has vowed full support for Robredo as she undertakes this task.

“We expect the allies of this administration to do no less,” he added.

Meanwhile, Robredo’s spokesperson and legal counsel, Barry Gutierrez, said the vice president has only begun doing her new task and told Cayetano to stop criticizing if he can’t help her do her job.

Gutierrez also said the entire government should unite to eradicate illegal drugs in the country.

Cayetano seeks review of National Building Code

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 30, 2019

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

House of Representatives (HOR) Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is pushing for a review of the National Building Code after the 6.6 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday in parts of Mindanao (October 29).

“I think it’s about time that we take three drastic steps. Number one, to review the National Building Code,” he said.

House Bill 4008 or the Building Code of 2019 aims to repeal the Presidential Decree 1046 or the National Building Code of the country.

Under the proposed bill, there will be new building standards to reduce the risk of severe damage during calamities like earthquakes. Non-compliance with the said standards can also lead to criminal liability.

In a statement, House Deputy Speaker and 1-PACMAN Rep. Mikee Romero said it is high time to change Presidential Decree 1046 because it was passed into law in 1977.

He also said there is poor compliance to the National Building Code.

“It is abundantly clear that poor compliance with the National Building Code is part of the systemic reason for the deaths, injuries, and widespread damage in Mindanao because of today’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake and the magnitude 6.3 earthquake last October 16,” he said.

The House Bill 4008 will be one of the priority bills to be discussed in the House of Representatives once session resumes on November 4.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

House Speaker Cayetano assures timely 2020 budget approval

Robie de Guzman   •   October 18, 2019

House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano uses the gavel on stage at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 22 July 2019. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has assured that the proposed national budget for the year 2020 will be approved on time.

Cayetano said there is no reason to delay the passage of the budget bill, adding that its deliberation is the Congress’ top priority when session resumes on November 4.

“Wala tayong excuse, we have all the time to discuss the budget. May isang buwan na during the break, nirereview natin, nagpreprepare sa bicam,” he told reporters during an interview at the New Clark City sports complex on Wednesday.

Cayetano also said there is a continued interaction between the lawmakers and Cabinet secretaries to fine-tune the budget.

The House of Representatives approved the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget on third and final reading on Sept. 20 after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the bill as urgent.

The House speaker also underscored the importance of the country’s economic rating and the need for programs to uplift the lives of poor Filipinos.

He said the Lower Chamber is set to tackle revenue bills before the year ends as well as a proposal to integrate programs of various government agencies that is seen to benefit poor regions in the country.

“The 20 poorest provinces palagi na lang silang poorest so sa 2020 we want to come up with 20 projects for the 20 poorest provinces. We are talking to the different agencies and departments to help,” he said.

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